Palmer set for shootout in battle to be top gun

Ollie Palmer leads the goal charts in Blue Square Bet South. Picture: Dave Haines
Ollie Palmer leads the goal charts in Blue Square Bet South. Picture: Dave Haines
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Ollie Palmer is set for a golden boot shootout tomorrow.

Two of the deadliest Blue Square Bet South marksmen go head to head in the Hawks’ trip to Salisbury City (3pm).

Westleigh Park hitman Palmer leads the race to become the top scorer in the division – with 25 goals.

But City’s Jamie White is only four behind with two games left.

Meanwhile, former Hawks striker Jamie Slabber is also in the running with 22 goals – including six penalties – for Chelmsford City.

Palmer is hoping to make up for a disappointing fortnight that began with a missed penalty at Boreham Wood.

The 21-year-old then added to his tally against Dover at Westleigh Park last weekend – only for it to be chalked off when the game was abandoned after an hour.

Regardless of his recent run, it has been a fine season for Palmer, who was determined to make up for last term when he felt he had underperformed.

He immediately looked leaner, fitter and mentally strong and – apart from a brief barren run over Christmas – has consistently found the net.

During the festive season he was the focus of interest from Football League clubs.

But he soon penned a new two-year deal with the Hawks – and he hasn’t looked back.

‘Ollie has the potential to go on and play in the professional game,’ said Hawks boss Lee Bradbury. ‘He is not only a good finisher but he is big and strong with pace.

‘His new deal with us is an important part of his development and it is up to us to make sure he continues to progress.

‘Once that was settled he got straight back on the goal trail.

‘His duel with White should be interesting.’

The 1-1 draw in the rematch with Dover on Tuesday night ended the Hawks’ slim play-off chances.

But Bradbury and his players are intent on finishing the season on a positive note by winning their final two games.

Their excellent away form in recent months gives them the belief they can get another good result against Salisbury, who are second in the table.

While they suffered a blip in the recent 2-0 defeat at Maidenhead, the Hawks have consistently picked up excellent points against top sides.

Hard-fought draws at Farnborough, Chelmsford, Eastleigh and Dover were backed up by a fine win at Boreham Wood.

Salisbury are already guaranteed a place in the play-offs and are favourites to finish in the runners-up spot.

‘Although we can’t go up or go down, we still want to win every game,’ said Bradbury.

‘It will be interesting to see how some of my players react.’

HAWKS: Masters, Thomas, Newton, Harris, Gotta, Strugnell, Grant, Arthur, Ramsey, Hutchinson, Nanetti, Kabba, Palmer, Bossman, Weekes, Jones, Ryan, Bossman, Monteiro